Hide Your Tattoo

I have a tattoo. Which is a no-no for people of my ethnicity. If we follow the bronze-age rulings ( or is it just one of those things that came up in the commentaries…? ) we are not allowed them.

Of course, some have had them forced upon them…a sad and terrible time, and one upon which I will not comment.

I hope to escape criticism; my tattoo was inadvertent. I stuck my hand into a cupboard in the art room at school and connected with a steel-nib pen that was charged with india ink. After howling and picking it out of my hand, I found I was left with a permanent reminder of the incident. No picture, just a 3mm dot on one finger. As well, for years I had some black powder fragments driven under the skin when a loaded frizzen went off close to my elbow – but these have been gradually rejected by the body and do not show any more.

I’m drawn to these thoughts upon reading an article by someone who has deliberate patterns of tattoo on their various portions – and who seems to draw the ire of the righteous over it. Whether the critics are offended by the patterns or the parts where they are imprinted is uncertain – but the tattoo wearer has been ordered to cover them up. I think this is a load of hooey.

You don’t draw any picture – in any medium – to hide it. You draw it to be seen. However it comes out, if you have been diligent and artistic enough to do it, you should be given the respect to let it be seen. The viewer may like it or not, but it is ultimately no more of their concern than if it were on a canvas stretched on a frame and hung in a gallery. You don’t like it? Walk on in silence. Go see a picture you do like.

If you are angry and offended that pictures exist for others to like, then there is something  very wrong with you.

Perhaps you should be covered up…?


Riding The Horse – Part One – A New Series

A Definitive Guide To The Business Of Hobbies.

This is written in response to a lunchtime conversation with a good friend – a person with whom I shared membership in a hobby club. We’ve moved on from that club, but have fond memories of it.

I’m currently juggling three hobbies myself and pleased with each of them in its own way. He is between engagements, as it were, and casting about looking at the why’s and wherefore’s of a new hobby. Hence the discussion and a series of essays from me. I’ve sent them to him prior to publishing them here and I hope they have proved helpful. So let’s begin…

The are are few animals more useful, more extensively used, or more expensive than the hobby horse. It has been ridden since at least the Middle Ages by many western and a few eastern cultures. The parade has been for religious, folkloric, magical, or sexual purposes and has happened through the year. You can see hobby horses in the circus, the pantomime, and the Christmas Pageant with equal pride of place. Oddly enough, no-one wants the job of cleaning up after them…

 But you can also thank the hobby horse for giving a name to pursuits that help us all live a better leisure life. The hobby presumably gets its name from the fact that most of them are deemed unnecessary, costly, wasteful, and fun. People pursue them much as they would ride a wooden horse down the street – with a great seriousness and a sore arse crack.

This series of articles is presented to help the hobbyist make sense of the whole affair – to make good choices in what to take up and why.

Part One: The five classes of hobby.

Leisure time comes to us all – even the galley slave has times when the ship is in dock and the hortator is off having a drink. Something has to fill that time. That is where hobbies come in. There are five general classes of activity that fill leisure time ( Note: sleeping, excreting and urinating, and eating do not count. They are active pursuits necessary to continued life. Some people compress them into one span of time, which is a lot of fun to see if you are out of splash range.)

First type is the sport or action type. It is entirely possible to devote all your hobby time to golf, horse riding, jogging, or fishing. And a dozen other active pursuits that break a sweat and an occasional ankle. This satisfies a basic human instinct to fight or hunt –  often moving the urges into safer, if less useful, channels. Age can wither some of these pursuits, so people are wise to choose them according to actual physical ability.

Second type is the making type. Whether the making is jewellery, wooden furniture, hot rods, or dolls clothes is immaterial. There is a basic human instinct to turn something out with the hands and eyes and you are well advised to give into it – something will come out of it in the end.

Third type is the collection – of anything. Humans collected shells and pebbles when there were no tools and everything else thereafter. It is a basic instinct. Some collections are of practical value, some promote monetary increase, and some are just the magpie’s eye operated by a human. It doesn’t matter which – the quest must always be unfulfillable to be of any hobby value.

Fourth type is the artistic expression hobby. Writing, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, poetry, singing, dancing, dressmaking, etc. Whenever you pour passion – whether that be fierce or gentle – into anything that is less useful than an Allis Chalmers air compressor, you are creating art. You won’t be able to drill rock or inflate earthmover tyres with it, but it is art nevertheless.

Fifth type of hobby is the socialising hobby. The Mensa or Probis club. Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Elks, Moose, RSL, CWA, Shriners, etc. etc…the list goes on and on of clubs that bring people together with some avowed purpose but are thinly-disguised attempts to start a social group that will cohere. In most cases they will succeed if people really want to be either friendly or fiendish. There is scope for both approaches.

In the next essay we will deal with how to analyse yourself and see which hobby will suit you best.

Fries With That

My recent trip to Melbourne saw me going through the Federation Square premises of the National Gallery Of Victoria with some trepidation. Previous visits were enlivened with rooms full of brightly coloured phalluses and vulvas – always a favourite with the art-lovers – and a full-scale fire alarm and evacuation on one visit. Plus some exhibits of real beauty. Fed Square is a grab bag…

This time was no different, though most of the exhibits were delightful. I am not a fussy connoisseur – give me a brightly coloured vulva and a bag of peanuts and I’m happy. So I welcomed these three pieces of comfortable furniture:

Nostalgic diners of the 70’s and 80’s will have them in a minute. They even evoke the remembrance of smell, though they had no odour themselves.

Call me a cynical citizen, but I reckon that these would be major sellers as lounge furniture if one could overcome the copyright laws.

Note that the Sausage McBiscuit is a North American product – probably closely allied to our Australian Sausage McMuffin.

It’s Art If I Say It Is

You need not go to the State Art Gallery to get your fill of interesting sights – if you go to car shows they are laid out for you all over the floor.

Art? I don’t mean the tattooist’s stand or the airbrush stand or the tin sign stand. I mean the actual devices that the enthusiasts have made throughout the year and brought for exhibition. The 3-D actual hardware that has more to it than just function.

Two cases in point are the Sailor Jerry truck and the bike rods at the 2017 NSW Hot Rod Show. Plenty on plenty of the classic rods and customs there, and the occasional little gem just parked quietly.

Why are these art? Because they are something that some did to please themselves – things that need not be the way they are but for the inner expression that they provide. Practical? Not really – but deeply pleasing to all who see them

a. The rod bikes. I’m sure you can ride them, and I’m sure you don’t want to. The angles, curves, mechanisms.and finish are all so different from the average run of treadlie that they have gone from being transports of people to transports of joy.

I have no idea how long they took to make, but I’ll bet they took a fair length of time to think up.




b. The Sailor Jerry truck. Now this is purely a commercial enterprise, and a striking one at that, but someone in the agency was clever enough to link the distressed paint scheme rod to the spiced rum and the whole thing just swings. Presumably the advertising truck has been carefully treated so that it does not actually hole out or fall apart before they get all the rum sold.

A Visit To The Artless Gallery Of New South Wales

I expect howls of outrage from the artists, as well as from the patrons of the Art Gallery of NSW, but as I am now on the other side of the country and have hunkered down into a safe position and adjusted my sights, I can begin sniping.

My target is not the makers of the art as such. I admire them for their skills – some at painting, some at sculpting, some at mulcting the public purse. They have managed to get their art into the gallery, been paid for it, and have gotten far enough down the road before the wraps came off to effect an escape. That’s better than John Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde were able to manage and I take off my hat to their success. If the man who signs the cheques for the art gallery loses his fountain pen they are all in trouble.

Note: Sad art about sad subjects is sad. Bad art about bad subjects is bad. Non-art is just not…

Okay. That’s the creatives done – now for the curatives…the people who spend public money to show off the stuff they bought with public money to the public…who get to see it for free. Free if they are not NSW taxpayers.

Is there a Bunnings handy? Or an IKEA? Or a GEC showroom? If there is, why not pop down there and have a look at the new light bulbs. They’re good value, and if you put electricity into the back of them and point them at the walls, people can see the art. With a bit of luck, some of the light bulbs will have a colour temperature higher than a glow-worm and the colours that the artists actually put on the canvas will be visible.

Or you could persist with the remnants of the ceiling skylights and a few yard lamps and let the whole thing look like a 1975 French film shot on old Ektachrome. Most of the artists are dead anyway, and apart from the occasional haunting, you probably won’t have any problems.

Worried about the colours fading? I got news for you – most of the canvases you have on the walls are painted in brown and brown lasts.

On a brighter note, the galleries that have windows do have colour, and the shop and café are well-lit. Otherwise you couldn’t see the price tags.

Le Romantisme de la Bugatti


The modern car enthusiasts who feed on superlatives produced by the motoring press and  video clip industry love the Bugatti Veyron. It goes ever faster in their programs – and as they are the ones telling you what that speed is, and you have no chance to see one in action whilst timing it, they can really make it go as fast as ever they want. If there is liquor involved as they sit at the computer keyboard it can be very fast indeed.





It is rather like the French railways – the SNCF – they have a penchant ( French word for disreputable habit…) for holding record-breaking electric locomotive races through the centre of France between Paris, Lyon, Orleans, and Marseille. It is presumably quieter than doing the same thing with racing cars, and when they drag a train after them you can get something to drink in the bar/buffet. Of course the exercise is pointless – there are Frenchmen on either end of the journey so you are not really escaping from them in either direction. But it is good for national pride.



Well, there were once Bugatti cars that did not go at 600Km/hr for the amusement. They did motor fast, and they did motor well, but it was with more common sense. They motored Gallicly, if that is a word. With style. With a logical shape that was made to be shapely. With visible engineering in odd shapes ( French, remember…) and rivets, and blue paint. Medium blue paint, of a particular shade. A paint that Monét would have approved of. A paint that Would have spoken to Van Gogh…in his good ear.


Witness, if you please, the full size reality, the full size unreality, the virtual reality, and the tiny reality. Bon Chance!